A former J-pop star trainee got here ahead with allegations Wednesday that he and a number of different younger males have been sexually abused by the late Johnny Kitagawa, as soon as a strong determine in Japan’s leisure trade.
Japanese-Brazilian singer-songwriter Kauan Okamoto alleged throughout a press convention that over the course of 4 years, starting in 2012 when he was 15, he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Kitagawa, who died age 87 in 2019.
Okamoto mentioned the abuse occurred when he would keep in a single day at one in every of Kitagawa’s penthouse flats in Tokyo, typically with different younger aspiring musicians who have been additionally signed to Kitagawa’s expertise company, Johnny & Associates.
Okamoto made the allegations throughout a press convention on the Overseas Correspondents’ Membership of Japan Wednesday, saying he was talking out now within the hope that different alleged victims will come ahead.
Throughout his lengthy profession, Kitagawa headed Japan’s largest expertise company and was identified for manufacturing widespread boy-bands and launching the music and performing careers of juvenile idols. He was a strong and influential determine within the media and leisure industries for many years.
Johnny & Associates despatched an announcement to CNN Thursday in response to the allegations.
“Since shifting to a brand new administration staff upon the demise of our former President in 2019, we’ve got made it our utmost precedence to adapt to the altering surroundings by establishing transparency in our organizational construction and insurance policies in a fashion that evokes social belief,” the assertion mentioned.
“In January 2023, we introduced measures that may guarantee strict compliance with legal guidelines and laws with out exception by each administration and workers in addition to the steps we’re taking to strengthen company governance by consulting with neutral third social gathering specialists,” it continued, with out instantly addressing the allegations.
There have been long-standing allegations towards Kitagawa. In 1999, Japanese journal Shukan Bunshun printed accounts of different younger males and boys who claimed they have been sexually abused by Kitagawa. He sued the journal for libel and was awarded damages, based on native media. A Tokyo Excessive Court docket partially overturned the sooner determination in 2003, ruling the printed sexual abuse claims weren’t libelous. An attraction introduced by Kitagawa was later dismissed by the Supreme Court docket in 2005.
Kitagawa was by no means charged over the allegations. He had reportedly denied all accusations when he was alive.
Singer-songwriter Okamoto joined Kitagawa’s company in February 2012 whereas he was in junior highschool. He turned a member of Johnny’s Juniors, a J-pop trainee expertise pool arrange by Kitagawa for younger hopefuls attempting to make it within the trade.
Okamoto mentioned Kitagawa would typically invite these younger recruits to spend the evening in his condo, and choose “favorites” among the many boys. He informed reporters that when Kitagawa informed him “it is best to go to mattress early,” the opposite Juniors “knew that it was my flip.”
He claims the primary time Kitagawa sexually assaulted him was in March 2012. That day work had completed late and he stayed at Kitagawa’s place with different Juniors.
Okamoto mentioned he had heard from different boys that Kitagawa could be “in a really dangerous temper the following day when you didn’t fall asleep in his room or a room close by.”
He describes listening to Kitagawa’s slippers approaching his room, pulling off the futon he was sleeping below and mendacity down subsequent to him.
“He started massaging my toes,” Okamoto mentioned, and alleged that Kitagawa touched his genitals and carried out oral intercourse on him.
Okamoto mentioned the next day Kitagawa gave him 10,000 yen (about US$75) with out giving a cause.
By the point Okamoto left Johnny & Associates in 2016, he alleged that he had been assaulted between 15 and 20 instances by Kitagawa.
He mentioned he noticed between 100 and 200 Juniors rotating out and in of the condo through the 4 years he was with the company, and alleged the vast majority of them have been equally assaulted by Kitagawa.
“There have been issues I noticed. In some cases it occurred proper subsequent to me as a result of we have been sleeping in the identical room. I might say three different members for certain, however to be sincere I believe that nearly everybody fell sufferer to him as a result of so long as we stayed at his place it might be very uncommon that somebody could be unscathed,” he mentioned, including that he believes “the vast majority of the 100 to 200 throughout my time skilled that.”
For a very long time, Okamoto mentioned he couldn’t discuss his experiences.
“There are others… who’ve determined to remain nameless. I selected to indicate my face. However which may change as nicely. That’s the hope that I’ve,” he mentioned.
Okamoto additionally alleged that if a boy refused Kitagawa’s advances, their profession could be over.
Whereas Kitagawa “would by no means instantly or explicitly point out that when you don’t accomplish that and so, you received’t be a hit,” Okamoto mentioned, his favorites could be picked for his or her debuts as entertainers and obtain extra alternatives.
“It was a particular state of affairs in that somebody who could be standing subsequent to Johnny-san could be picked to, for instance, act in a TV program or be allowed to type a boyband.”
He mentioned it was “common consciousness amongst everybody” that “you need to be at his place to succeed, so you need to even take the initiative to be at his place.”
Okamoto mentioned he was pissed off that long-standing allegations towards Kitagawa had not been taken significantly.
Okamoto mentioned due to Kitagawa, “my life did flip round” however “I additionally consider what Johnny-san did to me…and to the opposite Juniors was a nasty factor.”